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MMA event strikes hard at Ratliff

Two dozen amateur fighters provided a night of mixed martial arts action Saturday, May 1 during Strike Hard 10 at the Theo Ratliff Center in Demopolis.

The event, put together by Strike Hard Productions, included 12 bouts and featured two title fights.

“We’ve got fighters representing areas all over the South,” said David Elder, media representative for Strike Hard. “There are athletes here from Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia.”

Most of the amateur MMA fights at the event were scheduled for three, three-minute rounds. However, the two championship fights were scheduled to go five, three-minute rounds.

Mixed martial arts matches are won in one of three ways: when a competitor taps out, when a competitor is knocked out, or through the decision of a panel of judges. Judges score MMA fights similar to how boxing matches are scored.

The opening bout pitted Nathanael Griffin, of Birmingham, against Chris Weller, of North Alabama. The fight ended quickly in the first round with Griffin sinking a deep guillotine choke and forcing Weller to tap out.

In the second fight of the night, Kevin Adams squared off against Will Maxwell, of Tuscaloosa. After a short exchange of hand strikes, Adams took Maxwell to the ground, took his back, and locked in a rear naked choke that forced the tap out at 1:46.

The next fight pitted local fighter Nakia Dennis, of Sweet Water, against Landon Hitchcock, of Winfield, in a superheavyweight bout. Dennis engaged his opponent quickly, landing half a dozen punches to Hitchcock’s head within the first few seconds of the opening round and winning the match by technical knockout.

“I’m from Sweet Water, and we like to win down there,” said Dennis, a student and football player at UWA, “so I had to bring it to him tonight.”

Fight number four saw Demopolis resident Jeff Allen take to the cage against Roger Williams. Both fighters landed punches within the first moments of the opening round, but it was Allen who hit with more accuracy and forced Williams to tap out due to strikes at 2:39.

The next fight of the night ended very quickly as Chad Millstead knocked out Paul Sanford within the first minute of the first round.

Fight number seven was another quick win with Kevin Fitzpatrick, of Columbus, Miss., submitting Terrance Foley by way of an armbar in the first round.

In the seventh fight of the evening, Mark Siapco stood toe-to-toe with Rodney Martin in a stand-up battle that saw both men landing solid strikes. However, it was Siapco who came out on top as he landed an overhand right that knocked Martin out and sent him to the mat. Siapco followed with a number of punches from the mount before the referee stepped in and called the fight.

Fight number eight featured David Reeve, of Tuscaloosa, against Heath Reep, of Lawrenceville, Ga. After several stand-up engagements where Reep demonstrated some excellent Muay Thai kickboxing skills, Reeve took the fight to the ground and forced the submission due to guillotine choke.

The ninth fight of the night had another quick ending as Todd King, of Alabaster, took the win from Keifer Hammock by way of a tap out due to strikes.

Match number ten was the first title fight of the evening and featured Tim Rife, of Fayette, against defending 145 pound Strike Hard title holder Kevin Smith, of Macon, Ga. After a quick takedown by Smith, the defending champion displayed excellent ground and pound technique and forced the challenger to tap out due to strikes at 2:37 in the first round.

Fight number eleven saw Kelly Law, of Tuscaloosa, squaring off against Rodney Beckham, of Birmingham. The bout ended quickly when Law sunk in a guillotine choke and forced the tap out at 42 seconds in the first round.

The main event of the night was a battle for the vacant 170 pound Strike Hard championship and featured Johnathan Burge versus Travis Hinton. Once again, it was a short exchange as Hinton trapped a kick thrown by Burge, took him to the mat, and forced the tap out with a rear naked choke at 1:41.

Strike Hard promoter Matt Leavell said he was pleased with the reaction of the fans in Demopolis.

“We try to put on a very professional and entertaining event for the folks,” said Leavell. “Hopefully, we can return to Demopolis in the future.”

Leavell said the next Strike Hard MMA event would be June 5 at Woods & Water in Tuscaloosa. He added that the promotion would be giving away two free VIP tickets worth $150 through their Facebook page.